There was, amongst well-cleaned old typewriters and Emeco desk chairs, an umbrella stand. This was before Internet access was ubiquitous, when I'd stop a few times a week at a cafe where I would log in and check email, and maybe buy an airline ticket on Hotwire if I(more) hoped to go somewhere. There were no shops full of letterpress notecards and twee crepe paper bunting. Knitting needles were not a thing, and the contents of the shop felt marginal, almost ready to be interesting. The umbrella stand held rolled maps, and also a curl of patinaed metal, spotted with black and turquoise.
I carried the roll of sheet copper home a mile down hill, then sliced into it and shaped it into a box just big enough for a lunch. I brought it to a man, tied with string and accompanied by a half flat of raspberries. I always gave too much then, so much that the abundance was shared for days with his co-workers, so much that after he'd been dead for years they could recall the berries.
I left town to get away from him, leaving the remainder of the copper with a friend, who returned it to me years after that. It has come into my home and lived in the laundry, and against the side of the house, then back in, and I have puzzled at my keeping it with its accumulated dents and tarnish.
We move boxes and they rattle against it, and it bellows in its familiar metallic voice, retelling each time of that slice of polenta and the flat of berries and the man whose voice I cannot quite recall but whose laugh I know, whose razor is left, ready for him though it knows metal and skin will not meet again. (less)